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  • Reality television was never going to be conducive to forming meaningful relationships, but this whole idea of literally shopping for a dad on TV is part of the problem. Tweet This
  • Finding the right father for your children takes on a decidedly lower level of significance when you’re also prepared to just do it on your own.  Tweet This
  • Katzmann wants her children to have a father, and she is prepared to interview candidates with that—rather than other more superficial factors—in mind.  Tweet This

What happens when a 41-year-old single woman wants to find someone to father her child? For some these days, the answer lies in technology. But for Kristy Katzmann, the solution is also reality TV.

Katzmann, who was a contestant on “The Bachelor” in 2007, was married briefly and then divorced. Now, she says, she is “prepared to become a mom on her own,” but she would prefer to find the right father for her children. And so Katzmann became the first contestant on the new show “Labor of Love,” which premiered recently on FOX. 

Fifteen attractive, professional men in their late 30s and early 40s are competing to be Kristy’s “baby daddy.” With the help of “Sex and the City” actress Kristin Davis, who is the host, Katzmann puts men through various tests to find out whether each would make a good father. 

Even if the content is a little risqué—it includes the men providing “specimens” to show they are biologically up to the task—the premise, at least, is somewhat conservative. Katzmann wants her children to have a father, and she is prepared to interview candidates with that—rather than other more superficial factors—in mind. 

“Dating with [kids] in mind is going to be different than dating for the sake of dating, so I think you have to be really clear on that and stick to it,” she says at one point. “You’ll see along the way I eliminate men that I would never eliminate if this was just a dating show.”

In the first episode, Katzmann eliminates one man who was not on the same “timeline,” which is to say he could have waited a few years to have kids. One wonders why such a man would want to be a contestant in the first place. You can’t ask a 41-year-old woman to hold off for a little while. But it is also easy to see how Katzmann’s judgment has led her astray in the past. For example, why she doesn’t eliminate the guy who gets drunk more than once during the first week will baffle viewers. 

Let’s hope she was paying attention to the footage when the men walk into the house and upon seeing a sign that says “fatherhood,” one says that it’s all about “making babies.” Another one corrects him. No, “it means raising babies.” The men offer interesting answers for why they have come. One has seen the joy that having kids brings his brother. Others talk about the tremendous influence their own fathers had on them. Another, a funeral director, says he sees all these people with loving families around them at the end, and he is afraid to die alone. 

Show host Davis is the member of the “Sex and the City” foursome whose character on that show demonstrated the greatest commitment to settling down and having children. She married the short, balding guy and even converted to Judaism for him. In real life, though, it’s not clear that Davis understands what’s at stake. 

“When I first heard the premise of ‘Labor of Love,’ I knew I had to be a part of this show,” Davis, 55, told the Hollywood Reporter. “I believe every woman should feel empowered to go after their dreams, whether it be professional or personal, and to be at Kristy’s side as she took her future into her own hands was truly exciting.” 

Reality television was never going to be conducive to forming meaningful relationships, but this whole idea of having children as a form of personal empowerment and literally shopping for a father on TV is part of the problem. Instead of giving herself over to a relationship, a marriage, and then a family, Davis imagines that Katzmann is simply engaged in another kind of self-fulfillment—the same kind that characterized her dating when she was younger. 

Yes, maybe “Labor of Love” contestants will ask the kind of questions that women who are looking for a life partner should be asking. (It’s unfortunate that only women who are past their prime childbearing years will probably be featured. Maybe 20-somethings should be asking these questions, too.) But the context matters. Finding the right father for your children takes on a decidedly lower level of significance when you’re also prepared to just do it on your own. 

Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.